Employers: Why Comprehensive Cover Letters Matter

9 December 2016

As global markets grow and flatten out, more people are entering the workforce as population levels and the average working age rise. For professional roles, a well-structured resume, even if filled to the brim with experience, just does not cut it anymore. According to Business Insider, with the launch of LinkedIn, a cover letter now outweighs the importance that your resume once did.

The high importance that employers place on cover letters can mean the difference between a prospective employee winning a job or not. Strong covers letters can help illustrate a candidate’s passion, attention to detail and work ethic. Youngbrook Recruitment wants all of our employers to secure exceptional talent. So we have created the ultimate cheat sheet for things to look out for in cover letters you receive.

What is a cover letter?

To avoid any confusion, a cover letter is a single page summary of information to accompany a resume in a job application. A cover letter should always be included as it remarkably heightens the chance of being eligible for a job. Research shows that some employers will not even look at a resume without one attached. Most importantly, a cover letter is an opportunity for the candidate to explain how they are perfect for the job. Plus, what unique benefits they could bring to your company.

Here are four elements to look for when assessing professional and executive-level cover letters.

Authenticity and honesty

It is important to look for cover letters that read as being authentic and honest. They should be written in an easy flowing, conversational style. This displays the candidate’s originality of thought and desire for the offered position. The worst cover letters read as if they were a ‘copy and paste’ template.

It has been outlined by communication specialist, Lauren Nelson, that only one in four cover letters read authentically and are written from scratch.

Pro Tip: If the cover letter is average, and the resume is still great, do not instantly dismiss the potential of that candidate. Arrange an interview or phone conversation through your recruitment partner.

Did they do research on you and your company?

Before writing a cover letter, candidates should allow themselves ample time to become familiar with the company through research. They should find out as much as possible about the company’s background, team members, location, services and even past and current clients.

To showcase this, stronger candidates will weave information into their cover letter about the company, to entice the employer to read on and book an interview. Nowadays, where information is so readily available, there is really no excuse for not doing homework. Basic company research is the minimum expected. If a candidate is truly interested in a position, they will do what it takes to be prepared.

Pro Tip: When you interview a candidate, prepare a number of questions to help unlock answers. Find out how much the candidate knows about your company and how they think their experience will support the new role.

Do they sell themselves well, without being pushy or over-sensational?

The cover letter is all about selling your personal brand before you make it to a short list or an interview. Essentially, you should look for cover letters that show the candidate clearly understands (as best as possible)  what the job involves and what your organisation requires. To do this, look for specific information about their skills and personal qualities. Furthermore, look for any insights into how they match your role and organisational needs.

If a cover letter has been executed right, it should also allude to relevant life experience and how this has had an impact on the candidate’s current work ethic. Depending on your industry and the type of role you are offering, do not be afraid if you notice a bit of personality in a candidate’s cover letter and resume.

Pro Tip: More conservative, introverted candidates will often ‘hold back’ on selling themselves in cover letters. So, if you are recruiting for a role that naturally attracts these personality types, it is important to take this into account or risk prematurely dismissing a potentially strong candidate.

Does it read like a polished, finished piece of writing?

Finally, the most simple, but often neglected tip is to ensure it reads as a finished piece of writing. Candidates who have poor attention to detail do not proofread their resume and cover letter very well. There is nothing worse than receiving a cover letter riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. It sounds basic, but this is an obvious way of initially evaluating a candidate’s professional aptitude at writing and communicating.

Pro Tip: To attract the greatest number of high-quality candidates possible, your job ad copy needs to be error-free. As part of the recruitment process, Youngbrook Recruitment manages ad copy for its clients. Therefore, we can relieve a great deal of stress and risk.

So, there you have it. It is important to never underestimate the power that a great cover letter can afford a strong candidate, or how a poor cover letter can highlight deficiencies of others that may not perfectly suit your role.


Youngbrook Recruitment has been Queensland’s leading recruitment agency for ten years, servicing the supply chain, trades, business support, sales, marketing and executive level sectors with quality service and return on investment.

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